The Daytona 500 starting grid will see some significant changes Sunday because six drivers will have to take the green flag from the back of the pack. There could be more with two practices remaining and, as we know, anything can happen on the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
The driver who was hardest hit was William Byron, who was supposed to start on the front row in the Daytona 500 next to Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman, but some big names are in the same boat. 2020 Rookie of the Year Cole Custer and Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski were forced to go to backup cars along with Kaz Grala, Anthony Alfredo and Ross Chastain.
In Daytona Duel 1, there was some concern that Bowman had engine issues as he pulled off the track and crew members went under the hood of his No. 48 Chevrolet. It turned out to be a chassis vibration, however, and Bowman was able to return to the track, finishing four laps down in 20th. Bowman and crew chief Greg Ives are working to fix the problem before Sunday's Daytona 500.
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Custer had a single-car incident in the first Duel, taking a hard lick into the outside wall and suffering significant damage to his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. He was slated to start 27th in the Daytona 500.
Garrett Smithley triggered a multicar wreck with four laps left in Duel 2, collecting Keselowski and Chastain. In the process, Front Row Motorsports announced that the damage to the No. 38 Ford of Anthony Alfredo had significant enough that it could not be repaired and forced to bring out a backup.
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Kaz Grala made it into the Daytona 500, but crew members had to push his car back to the garage. There was no indication from Kaulig Racing why they needed to go to a backup.
Daytona 500 drivers who lost their starting positions
William Byron, P2
Brad Keselowski, P24
Cole Custer, P27
Ross Chastain, P34
Anthony Alfredo, P36